How important is it to you to speak another language? How is ‘being multilingual’ viewed in your country? How closely do you identify with the translation profession? These were just some of the questions asked by Floriana Badalotti, a PhD candidate from Monash University, in a session titled Considerations on the Cultural Identity of Interpreters and Translators at the 2008 AUSIT Biennial National Conference in Brisbane. [Read more…]
Check out Philippa Hammond’s write-up of the Translator as Strategic Partner Conference over at Blogging Translator. Philippa was micro-blogging live over the conference weekend and has used her updates as a basis for her post. A fantastic example of how to use Twitter in a professional context.
More than that though, her post contains some really useful nuggets of inspiration. Try this on for size:
Jost Zetzsche, of Toolkit fame, spoke about our age-old idealisation of the patron saint of translators, St. Jerome. We risk being constrained by this idealisation of a translator who, let’s face it, innovative as he was at the time, was born c. 347. Instead, we need to roll with the times and think about the true purpose of our texts…
Great write-up, Philippa!
The last eight months have been a real roller-coaster ride professionally speaking, as I’ve tried to settle into life on the Other Side of the World. On the one hand, despite my best efforts to stay connected virtually, at times I’ve felt isolated and demotivated without the face-to-face contact that I enjoyed with my peers in London. On the other, I’ve had a stronger sense than ever of the wealth of opportunity and choice that translation as a career can offer me – if only I could get myself focussed enough to tap into it.
Thankfully last weekend’s 2008 AUSIT Biennial National Conference in Brisbane delivered just the shot of enthusiasm I needed to top up my motivation levels. My one and only aim in attending was to gain an overview of translation in Australia. What I got was a lesson on how the oldest profession in the world is forging its place in country with needs far different to those I’d ever considered before.
Yes, this is where I live now. And yes, this is the frankly breathtaking mode of transport I used to commute to the AUSIT conference last weekend 🙂
I attended the 2008 AUSIT Biennial National Conference in Brisbane this weekend, and was pleased to come away with some fantastic new contacts and a much clearer view of the role of translation in Australia. Until I have a chance to write up my notes, here’s a list of posts relating to other conference and translation-related events I’ve attended:
- Proofing, revision, editing or checking: whatever you call it, find 3 steps to help navigate these murky waters here. (Nov 2007)
- Want to know how to be a true professional? This conference session I attended discussed the transition from translation student to freelance professional, but the part about professionalism is relevant to translators at any stage of their careers. (Nov 2007)
- Read my thoughts on applying occupational standards to my translation practice, with a link to more information on the CEN 15038 quality standard for translation service providers. (Apr 2007)
- Get more letters after your name. Read about the UK’s CIOL chartered linguist status and some tips gleaned from a specially organised information session I attended, along with a rundown of the requirements for qualified member status of the ITI. (Be aware these may have changed in the intervening months. Link through to the relevant website for the most up-to-date requirements.) (Feb 2008)
- Think about expanding the language-related services you offer (Dec 2007), or read some tips I picked up from a session on building sustainable customer relationships. (Mar 2007)
- If tech’s your cup of tea, you might be interested in my write-up of an ITI Conference session on corpora (May 2007) or on building a website. (Mar 2007)
- Finally, read how throwing your career path out the window could be the best thing you’ve ever done. (Apr 2007)
Are Gen Y committing the cardinal sin of believing our own hype? I’m afraid we might be. Blogging may be a great way to get noticed in our respective fields, but let’s not allow our mastery of fancy technology to lull us into thinking we’re achieving something we’re not.
In a radio interview a few years back*, career advisor Penelope Trunk said something that made me think, “No, no, no, NO!”. She said:
The people who are blogging about their careers are the top performers, because it is so hard to blog. It’s so hard to be constantly thinking about your profession and to be gathering new ideas and putting out new ideas and having conversations about it, that only the best people, only the best employees are blogging and following blogs…
There are lots of things that make someone a top performer – hard work, talent, experience. But blogging? I really don’t think so. It may be a common denominator among successful or highly motivated employees, but I bet it’s also common among employees who are bored, or disillusioned, or really, really ticked off too.
Penelope does a great job of giving a voice to a sub-culture and I really admire the time and effort she puts into helping young bloggers find their voices. But in this particular case, I think she’s in danger of mis-managing expectations. I think it’s dangerous to believe that just because someone blogs, they’re a top performer or the best kind of employee. And it’s especially dangerous for younger bloggers to believe this, as it plays into all the worst kind of stereotyping of Generation Y-ers.
There’s no doubt that it’s hard to be constantly thinking about your profession, and formulating ‘new’ ideas. But who’s to say we’re coming up with anything really new? An idea or concept might be new to me, but that doesn’t mean it’s new to everyone else in my field too. I’d be embarrassed if anyone thought I was under the illusion that I was contributing to my field in anything other than a general way. (And by general I mean that if someone learns from my mistakes, then all the better).
The main issue here is that we’re in danger of confusing style with substance. Blogging is just a tool we can choose to employ for any number of purposes. Personally, I blog to learn, not because I’m any kind of ‘expert’. Blogging is simply one way to consolidate all the information I come into contact with everyday. It doesn’t in itself make me any different to another professional translator who might choose to use a different set of tools to track their development.
Blogging with an authoritative voice is an accepted means of writing for the web, but let’s not fall into the trap of believing our own hype. That’s just setting ourselves up to look dumb when it turns out that we’re only learning what a lot of other people have already worked out for themselves – and in a much less painful and self-absorbed way. I’d heartily advocate using blogging as a means of developing professionally, but I’d also recommend being clear on how sure you are of your ideas, and at what stage you’re at in the opinion-formulating process. Anything else and we’re just giving blogging a bad name.
I wish—oh, how I wish—that there was one answer in one book, and that all I had to do was find that book. Instead, the maps to your map are in the books. Look at that person’s journey, and see what you can find in her struggles or his mishaps or their lightbulb moments that makes you tingly. The truth comes at us sideways, usually, and when we least expect it. Our job, I increasingly believe, is to prime ourselves for reception…and reflection…and synthesis.
A lot of people are impressed by experts: people who somehow seem to know everything about something in particular.
But I remember my mom nurturing a cynical streak in me from an early age when, in response to my over-awed reaction to a confident young classmate, she told me to remember that “anyone who says they know everything really knows nothing. Because EVERYONE knows that no-one knows everything”. Now this may not be the catchiest nugget of wisdom ever, but it introduced me to two key ideas at an early age:
- Perhaps the real clever clogs aren’t necessarily those who proclaim their expertise.
- If you want to know a lot about something, there’s probably a lot you have to not know about something else. (Bear with me – it gets more concrete.)
There was a great article by John Cloud in Time Magazine last week which reminded me in a roundabout way of the wisdom of my Irish mammy. The writer argued convincingly that experience is not a predictor of performance. Gen Y proponents may well see this as fuel for the fire burning in their bellies, but I think there’s a lot more that can be pulled from of the ideas in this article. [Read more…]
While I’m mostly enjoying the switch from being an into-English translator to being an active language learner, I’d forgotten just how exhausting it can be 🙂 And how slow and steady a process it is to move knowledge from the passive to the active part of the brain! Evidence indeed, if any more were needed, of the entirely different skill sets we use as linguists, as opposed to as professional translators.
Overall, I’m surprised and really pleased about how much progress I feel I have made in polishing and refining my knowledge of Spanish over the past two weeks. I don’t think this is simply because I am here in Spain, although we all know that when push comes to shove, absorption is the way to go. I’ve had other absorption experiences which were not this successful. I think my success is down to a combination of things which seem to be really working for me:
- the school has some excellent language teachers who are clearly experienced in teaching ELE (Spanish as a foreign language) to advanced level and/or experienced language learners. I’ve noticed this before too – at this stage of the game, the average language school or language class is simply not going to cut it when it comes to helping me maintain and/or further master my working languages.
- I’m really focussed on purely language skills. No trips to flamenco shows, concerts, sightseeing or other “cultural” events this time – I’ve had plenty of chances for all that 🙂
- I’ve enrolled to sit the DELE exam, and the fear of showing myself up by getting a bad mark is the best motivation ever! Now interestingly, there’s a couple of reasons why this shouldn’t make a difference to my motivation levels. Firstly, in theory it shouldn’t be much of a stretch for me given my background. Secondly, I don’t even need to tell anybody I’m doing it – so what if I do badly? Thirdly, my performance is no reflection of my abilities as a translator as plenty of professionals do a good job of working from their passive or C languages without ever learning to speak or write them. But for some reason, as a matter of personal pride, I just don’t feel I can afford myself these excuses… whatever works, eh?!
- I’m not sure why, but I’ve been very aware of what works for me as a language learner during my stay. Now, I’ve always considered myself to be an active language learner as I’m constantly striving to perfect and indeed maintain my second-language skills in various ways. But I’m not usually so hyper-aware of my learning processes, and especially not in relation to other learners in the class, e.g. the areas in which I am different from and/or the same as them, the things I know I’ll need to go away and work on myself because no amount of explaining will make clear even as everyone else in the class is nodding their heads in agreement, etc. I feel more in control of my learning than I have ever been and it’s a nice feeling, even if it takes a little getting used to. Maybe this is part of growing up 🙂
- My expectations have been pretty realistic in terms of what I want to achieve. I used to get very frustrated thinking about how much more Spanish I felt I “knew” when I lived here years and years ago, and the sense of grief would almost overwhelm me. But it’s not bothering me anymore. I can clearly see how what I knew then is quite different from what I need, and want, to know now. I think it helps to be studying with a small group of other learners who are all at different stages of life and who have very different reasons for studying Spanish. I can almost see the ghosts of my past, present and future language-learning selves in that one small room and it’s funny how that clarifies how I’m looking at things!
- It’s all about timing! While I know three weeks is nowhere near ideal, I firmly believe you can make a LOT of progress with your language skills within this relatively short period of time. My model of two weeks of classes and just under one week of self-study and consolidation is just right for the way I learn, but I’d also consider taking classes over three weeks but on a less intensive basis to really give things a chance to bed in (although this depends on what the school is offering too, of course). However regardless of your learning style, based on the discussions I’ve had with other students it seems that one week of classes is simply not worth it – your brain has scarcely even registered that you are in intensive language-learning mode by the time you’ve finished. If you really are limited to only one week of classes either due to financial and/or time constraints, I’d recommend thinking long and hard before enrolling in a language school.
… falls fast and furious, and causes endless power cuts!
Yes, I know it’s been a while. I have another week to go in the rainy but frankly rather gorgeous city of Malaga, and hope to be settled Down Under and back to blogging regularly by early March. I’d planned to continue blogging over this period actually, and even went so far as to have a couple of half-completed posts on stand-by. As usual, things keep getting in the way and let’s face it – real-life fun trumps cyber fun every time 🙂 (Things would be a bit tragic if they didn’t).
My language course is going well and it’s really great to blow the cobwebs off my spoken Spanish again. As expected, my written skills really aren’t being stretched but I plan to work on that via distance learning over the coming year.
The first time I ever lived away from home was in 1997, when I spent a couple of months in Granada as part of my university studies. I’d been to Malaga before both on my own and with family, but the experience was still very “foreign” and frightening at times, and I struggled with the culture shock of it all. So it somehow feels right to be here again more than ten years later, feeling very much at home even as I prepare to relocate to Australia!
Following my last post on ITI Qualified ITI Member status, here’s my take on the requirements for gaining Chartered Linguist (Translator) status based on an information evening run by the ITI London Regional Group in January 2008:
Note this does not constitute official information. Please check the relevant body for information on current requirements.
Chartered Linguist (Translator) status is evidence of having reached the very highest standards as a professional. It’s only been possible to apply for Chartered Linguist (Translator) status since September 2007, so it’s still a very new and very exciting development. The requirements may well change as the application process is further refined over the coming months, so keep an eye on the CIOL website for updates. Remember, it’s a lot easier to keep the correct records as you go along, rather than having to backdate everything when the time comes to apply.
NOTE: Although Chartered Linguist (Translator) status is awarded by the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL), the process is separate to applying for general membership of the CIOL (in fact, you don’t even need to be a member of the CIOL to apply). As I understand it, the requirements at the time of writing are as follows:
• Education: The CIOL Diploma in Translation or an MA level qualification which must include an assessed practical translation module in the languages for which you wish to register. Status: check.
• Evidence of CPD: Submit CPD records for the 3 years prior to applying. Status: I’ve kept CPD records based on the ITI’s record sheet for a couple of years now, so I don’t expect this to be a problem. Saying that though, a lot of it hasn’t been “signed off”. Firstly, because it’s not compulsory within the ITI and I think the idea of asking someone to sign my little book is a bit like being back in the Brownies. And secondly, because a lot of my CPD is self-directed so it’s not suitable to ask someone else to sign it.
• References: Three in total: Two from clients or other persons “in a position to assess or report on a substantial portion of your work over a significant period of time”, covering all language combinations. One from someone able to comment on my professional repute, “someone with whom you have been associated in a professional context or who is otherwise able to speak about your commitment to professionalism, personal development and other relevant factors.” Status: to be addressed when the time comes. (I’ve already hassled my poor clients for references a couple of times in recent years.)
• Work volume: Provide evidence of having translated an average of 300,000 words a year over the five years prior to applying. Status: this is a pretty achievable volume, even for a part-time translator. Assuming 45 working weeks per year (I like to be generous when I’m working these things out), this equals an average of 6,666 words per week. However unless they issue more specific guidance, I’ll have to contact admissions to see how best to calculate the volume of my non-traditional translation work.
• Attend an interview: To explore my understanding of professional ethics. Status: I think I can cope with this.
Now this is the point where it gets interesting. Registration as a Chartered Linguist will be assessed on an ongoing basis, and will need to be renewed every 3 – 5 years. As a result, the following will also be required:
• CPD: Submission of an annual report stating that you still meet the criteria for which you were awarded Chartered Linguist (Translator) status, including the number of words translated over the year and CPD activities and plans for the following year.
• Attend an interview: Further interviews every 3 – 5 years.
• Cost: £350 to apply initially, with this cost to be reviewed annually (expect upward), plus £50 to “register” for first year. £100 + VAT each year thereafter, PLUS another sum of money TBD when your registration is reviewed every 3 – 5 years. This is not an insignificant amount of money, so I expect the CL (Translator) designation really will come to represent those translators who are most serious about being recognised within the wider industry.
And there we go – looks like I’ll have a busy few years ahead of me.